Johannesburg, Dec 17: Indian star Sushil Kumar made his return to international wrestling a memorable one, outclassing Akash Khullar of New Zealand in the final of the men’s 74 kilogram freestyle category to clinch gold at the Commonwealth Wrestling Championship here on Sunday.
Sushil gave his opponent virtually no chance in the title clash, carving out an easy 6-0 victory. The double Olympic medallist, who is staging a comeback after around three years, thus clinched his fifth title at the Commonwealth level.
“It’s a very proud and emotional moment for me as I have returned to the mat on international level after a gap of 3 years. I want to dedicate this Gold medal won in #Commonwealthwrestlingchampionship at #SouthAfrica to my guru and to my Nation. JaiHind,” Sushil later wrote on his official Twitter handle along with a photo of the national flag.
Emerging Indian star Parveen Rana got the bronze in the 74kg category, beating Johannes Petrus Botha of South Africa in the play-off for the third place.
The Indians dominated most of the weight categories in the men’s freestyle with Bajrang (65kg), Jitender (79kg) and Sumit (125kg) also winning gold in their respective events.
Hitender (125kg), Somveer (92kg) and Jitender (79kg) had to be content with bronze medals.
The Indian women also imposed total domination in the competition, winning gold in each of the 10 weight categories.
Kiran (72kg), Divya Kakran (68kg) and Ritu Malik (65kg) emerged champions in their respective categories while Pooja (76kg) and Ravita (59kg) finished with silver medals. Kavita (76kg) and Manu Tomar (72kg) took bronze.
Sushil started his campaign with an easy 8-0 win over Botha.
In the second round, Sushil overpowered Jasmit Singh Phulka of Canada 9-1 before defeating Rana 5-4 in a thrilling contest.
Sushil’s longtime coach Satpal Singh was ecstatic at India’s performance.
“It was a superb performance by all the Indian wrestlers. Sushil has made a strong comeback after a long time. He worked very hard for the last 8-10 months,” Satpal told IANS.
“The toughest competition was in the 74 kilogram category. The wrestlers from New Zealand, South Africa and Canada were really good,” he added.
Satpal asserted that the Indians are now geared up for a busy competition schedule in 2018, which will see them compete at the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games.
“The best thing is that Indian wrestlers were involved in a strong competition after a long time. Wrestlers from Nigeria, Australia, Canada and New Zealand are really strong, both technically and physically, specially in the middle weight categories like the 74kg and 86kg,” he said.